Most of the time, I don’t want the world to know where I am, but I do want my phone to know.
Last night my wife and I finished up our Christmas shopping. It was fun. We were alone… no kids. It felt just like a real date. From the time we left the house, around 6pm until we decided to get some hot chocolate at Starbucks around 10pm, I was never once tempted to let the world know where we were. The lure of Foursquare points was not enough of an incentive to make me want to check-in at Toys”R”Us or Sports Chalet. I simply didn’t care if the rest of the world knew where we were.
But I did need to find a different a specific gift. So, I fired up the Maps application on my iPhone and typed in “sporting goods.” My iPhone knew my location and quickly populated the screen with cute little stick pins. I clicked the one closest to me, a Big 5, then clicked on the phone number so I could ask if they had what we were looking for. They did. At that moment, I was very happy my iPhone knew exactly where we were. And equally happy nobody else did.
Truth be told, I’ve been forcing myself to use things like Brightkite, Foursquare and Gowalla. Perhaps if I lived a more exciting life I’d feel differently. But I don’t. When I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I felt certain that when I checked in somewhere that there was the potential for a friend to be close enough to quickly jump in a cab and join me. It feels the same way when I’m at a conference. The popularity of a specific tool among the people I want to hang out with makes it really easy to locate the parties.
But I live my every day life in Santa Clarita, CA, and my business is not location specific. On a typical day, I rarely venture outside a 300 yard radius of my front door. And If I do end up going somewhere, it’s not usually very exciting. I’m the mayor of a Chevron for goodness sakes. Yay me.
When we arrived at Starbucks, I pulled my iPhone out and noticed several Twext.me updates. So, I read them, without actually going to Twitter. When I closed Messages down, there, staring at me on my home screen were the pretty little Brightkite, Foursquare and Gowalla icons. I thought, “why not.” So I fired up the one I like best, Gowalla, and let the world know I was having some hot chocolate with my wife. At that point in the evening, I wouldn’t have minded if someone we knew saw it and came by to say hi. But I didn’t really believe that would happen. Not in Santa Clarita. And I didn’t really believe anyone would or should care.
So, that makes me wonder. I wonder how many others are like me? I wonder if the technorati’s use of Foursquare will really translate to the general population? I understand that the tech community is madly in love with the potential of these apps, but when it comes to everyday use, my wife thinks they’re all stupid and dangerous, especially for a woman. She doesn’t even want me to know where she’s at most of the time, let alone the rest of world. I wonder how many people are just like her?